Public Relations Grad Josh Olszewski Journeys to Ireland for Social Media Internship
Josh Olszewski graduated from the Public Relations program in Spring 2017. During Summer 2017, Olszewski journeyed to Dublin, Ireland to work as the social media intern for First Music Contact (FMC), a non-profit organization. In the following interview, he describes the experience and how he put the skills he learned at Ferris to work.
How did you get your internship?
I enrolled in a cultural exchange program called Global Experiences last year after a friend of mine recommended it to me. She worked as an intern for a renowned venue in Dublin called Whelan’s. She told me the city had a vibrant music scene and was a wonderful destination for anyone looking to work in the music or arts industries.
After hearing about her experience, I decided that Dublin sounded like a fantastic place to spend a summer. A few weeks later, in January of 2016, I enrolled in the program. After a few coaching calls with the program coordinators about career goals, aspirations, and strengths, the company set out to find me a few possible internships in Dublin. This past March, I received an internship placement with First Music Contact and had a Skype interview with the CEO. It seemed like a really good fit for the both of us and I was offered the position on the spot.
ABOVE: Olszewski’s first day on internship at First Music Contact
Can you please tell us more about your internship?
First Music Contact (FMC) is a non-profit organization that provides resources to Irish bands in hopes to cultivate a healthy, vibrant music scene in Ireland. FMC runs the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival (HWCH) every fall. This festival includes live performances by new, up-and-coming Irish artists as well as a conference featuring international professionals in the music industry. HWCH serves as an opportunity for Irish artists to showcase their music to important industry players as well as network and meet people who can truly make a difference in their music careers. FMC also oversees Music From Ireland, which is a facet of the organization that supports Irish artists who play shows abroad (like, SXSW, Reeperbahn Festival, The Great Escape, etc.).
As a social media intern, it has been my responsibility to run all of FMCs accounts this summer. When I arrived, the organization had just announced that applications to play at HWCH17 were open. I had the opportunity to work with the operations assistant to develop a social campaign to communicate how to apply, the benefits of playing the festival, etc.
We contacted local and international industry pros and asked them to come into the office (when possible) to give their top tips for bands applying for the festival. It was my job to film these videos and edit them for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also had the opportunity to go to several events the organization was co-hosting and live tweet / live stream.
It's pretty cool to know that these skills transfer very effectively from school to work, even when working abroad.
ABOVE: Olszewski and his boss at First Music Contact
How did the Public Relations program at Ferris prepare you for your internship?
The PR program has prepared me for this position because it taught me the importance of research and measurement. I feel the higher level PR courses, especially the ones I took as a senior, taught me how to approach a situation with the end in mind. I had a social media job last summer and I definitely wasn’t as concerned with measurement as I am now that I’ve taken those higher level courses. Also, thanks to PREL 440 and 455, I can confidently think about a campaign from start to finish. When my boss asked me to develop a plan for social media throughout the process of announcing applications, tickets, new industry speakers who will be at the festival, etc. I knew how to develop a plan and ask what research we needed to do, what we should be looking at in terms of measurement, and what different tactics we could try in order to reach the desired outcome.
I also believe the PR program helped me understand the importance of some crucial skills in the workplace like showing up on time, dressing professionally at work, actively listening to coworkers and supervisors, and being able to present ideas clearly and concisely. It feels good to be able to have an experience like this, in a new country, working for a new company, and being able to say “oh yeah, I know how to do this because of this assignment in school.” Skills learned from the Video News Release assignment definitely came in handy when filming those industry tips videos; skills learned from the poster assignment come back to me every time I make a graphic for social media; writing press releases definitely comes back to me even when I’m not writing them. I use a press release as a template for social media copy. I think about what information is most important and should be included at the top of the post and what information can be either omitted or saved for later. It’s all these assignments and projects that have helped me develop skills that I’m using every day at my internship. It’s pretty cool to know that these skills transfer very effectively from school to work, even when working abroad.
In general, it's been an amazing experience.
Do you have anything else to share?
My first week here, I had the opportunity to visit the Facebook headquarters of Ireland and attend a conference there. Culture Ireland was hosting an event to help arts organizations throughout the country make better use of their social media in order to grow their businesses. I was tasked with live tweeting the event for FMC (which seemed a bit odd at first to be live tweeting a Facebook event, but it worked out). I also learned a great deal about what is capable on Facebook using the tools they provide for businesses.
In general, it’s been an amazing experience. The music industry is so vibrant here and it’s so rewarding seeing national, industry pros here retweeting or sharing our content. It’s helped me realize the importance of engaging with key influencers. It’s also been interesting to learn how small changes in culture can affect the way we communicate. There have been a few times that I’ve drafted up messages and my supervisor will read it and say “Irish people don’t really use this phrase” or “we don’t really say that here.” The funny thing is, they’re all so minute, yet incredibly important details.